Gently sliding my finger beneath the seal, I carefully opened one of my weekly handwritten notes from my great Aunt Bee. The anticipation of discovering the latest little gift from my favorite pen pal is one of those small joys that life often sends our way…just to keep us on our toes and help us remember to appreciate the small things. Whether it’s an article clipped from her local newspaper in North Carolina, a sixty-year-old recipe card that she found among her boxes, or a fond memory of feeding me mac-and-cheese as a child, I never know what I’m going to find (and that’s probably the best part)!
In a world of high-speed internet, electronic mail, and text messaging, a handwritten note goes a long way. In fact, it’s such a rarity that it gives me pause. I often find myself tucking Aunt Bee’s letters aside until I have a few quiet minutes to sit down and really focus on her message. That’s why she receives email responses from me at very odd hours (5:00 a.m. or 9:00 p.m. — she always notices)! Her letters are not just tossed into the larger pile of catalogs, magazines, and junk mail that otherwise fills our mailbox and accumulates on my counter.
On this particular afternoon, I strolled down our gravel drive to the mailbox, enjoying the crisp, cooler fall weather and breathing in a deep sigh. I had just finished making (and photographing) an amazing Maple-Glazed Oven Roasted Turkey Breast recipe for the blog, with the intention of serving part of it for dinner that evening and tucking the rest of the meat away in the freezer to enjoy as leftovers at a later date. I love the satisfaction of having not one, but TWO dinners made ahead of time (with very little effort) so that I can cross one more item off of my ever-growing “To-Do List.”
Before heading out to pick up the older boys from school, I opened Aunt Bee’s card and found one of her old favorite recipes tucked inside:
While this dish calls for chicken, I knew right away that it would make a perfect leftover turkey casserole to take advantage of the extra meat that I could still smell wafting through the kitchen. Forget about freezing the extra turkey for later, I used it that week to prepare Aunt Bee’s recipe…and it did NOT disappoint!
Creamy, hearty, and comforting, Aunt Bee’s Leftover Turkey Casserole is everything that a post-Thanksgiving dinner should be: quick, easy, and delicious!
When the holiday is over, the last thing that any of us will want to do is stand in the kitchen the next day to slave over a hot meal. Instead, we need something that comes together in a matter of minutes, that uses common pantry staples, and that the whole family will actually eat. With just 15 minutes of prep, this Leftover Turkey Casserole is Aunt Bee’s answer to your post-holiday blues!
- 1 ½ cups (4 ounces) uncooked rotini pasta (about 2 cups cooked pasta)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cups cooked, diced turkey (such as leftover Maple-Glazed Roasted Turkey Breast)
- 10 ounces frozen peas
- ½ can (5.25 ounces) cream of chicken soup (undiluted)*
- ½ can (5.25 ounces) cream of celery soup (undiluted)
- 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart (or 11 x 7-inch) dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook pasta in boiling water until just al dente (about 9 minutes). Drain, toss with butter until butter melts, and stir in turkey, peas, and soups.
- Transfer pasta mixture to prepared dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and paprika.
- Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through.
TO PREP AHEAD: Prepare casserole through step 3. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate or freeze until ready to bake.
SERVING ONLY TWO? Use a 1-quart casserole dish (or an 8- or 9-inch round pan) and cut the ingredients in half. Since the recipe calls for just ½ can of the 2 soups, you can substitute with ½ can of just chicken soup or ½ can of just celery soup. You may need to decrease the baking time to 15-20 minutes (or until heated through).